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Editorial on Martin Luther King Day


Notoman 20 / 419  
Feb 2, 2010   #1
This is an assignment for English class. We are supposed to write an editorial focusing on these skills:
Stating a clear argument and thesis
Deliberate organization to the argument
Smooth transitions
Strong verbs
Descriptive adjectives
Introduction/Conclusion

I had a few particular questions about it that I put it parenthesis and in bold. I could always change the structure to avoid the issues, but I want to know the proper way to deal with them for future reference. Thanks so much.

Martin Luther King Day: A Missed Opportunity

On the third Monday of January, the United States acknowledges Martin Luther King Day. School children color Xeroxed copies of Dr. King's face and listen to snippets of his "I Have a Dream" speech, but for most Americans the holiday is more about a three-day weekend than a time for reflection. Was Congress too quick to name a holiday after an individual whose contemporaries are still alive? Legislation authorizing the holiday was first submitted by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) just four days after Dr. King's assassination. Civil rights did not start nor end with Martin Luther King, Jr. By leaving out the people and organizations that fought-and are still fighting for-civil rights, we have lost an opportunity for a holiday that is more meaningful and more inclusive. Instead of Martin Luther King Day, we should be celebrating Civil Rights Day.

(Should "Xeroxed" be capitalized? It is a brand name, but it has come into common usage.)

(When I end a sentence with Jr., how do I also show that it is the end of the sentence? Do I need to put two dots? Sure, I capitalized the next word, but this tripped one of one my classmates during peer editing--she thought it was all one sentence)

As a leading advocate of nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, King deserves a place in history, but is he worthy of a holiday? The only other American holiday honoring an individual is Columbus Day-a soon-to-be-obsolete observance that leaves more people wondering why they did not receive any mail on the second Tuesday of October than anything else. Even Washington and Lincoln share President's Day. Martin Luther King Day seems to vaunt Dr. King's accomplishments above those of the combined achievements of our two most venerated American presidents.

Celebrating Dr. King's birthday pushes other civil rights leaders to the background. Early abolitionists like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass risked their lives to help the enslaved; William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper The Liberator and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin were instrumental in bringing the plight of slaves to the forefront. Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois battled for rights, educational opportunity, and an end to segregation in post-Civil War America. Let's not forget Jackie Robinson, the Freedom Riders, The Little Rock Nine, Shirley Chisholm (the first African-American woman elected to Congress), and the Kennedy Administration. Thurgood Marshall served as the NAACP's lead attorney and successfully argued Brown v. Board of Education before being appointed to the Supreme Court where he continued his advocacy for the underdog.

(Should "administration" be capitalized after "Kennedy" because it was a particular administration? I can't find anything definitive--the JFK library capitalizes it; other websites do not.)

But civil rights is not just an African-American issue. Not by a long shot. Catholics and Jews were both denied the right to vote in our nation's history. Native Americans and Hispanics have organized their own advocacy efforts. Women waited for decades before gaining the right to vote. The ERA (Equal Right Amendment) simply stating the "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex" still awaits ratification. The disabled, in spite of the 1990 Americans with Disability Act, continue to face discrimination. Gays and lesbians are denied the right to marry in all but a handful of states and are only permitted to serve in the military if they refrain from homosexual conduct and keep their sexual orientation a secret: Don't ask, don't tell.

(This paragraph needs some work to smooth it out, give it a better sense of chronology, and ... and ... something!)

Honoring Martin Luther King Day relegates the struggle for civil rights to one viewpoint of one demographic group in one era. Advocating for a change in the holiday at this juncture would not only be difficult but divisive. The United States missed an opportunity when they created a holiday honoring Dr. King instead of a more inclusive celebration of how far we have come and a recognition of the distance still to go.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 3, 2010   #2
When I end a sentence with Jr., how do I also show that it is the end of the sentence?

good question! Just use one period
grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/period.htm

I don't like your premise of challenging the appropriateness of MLK day. Even the groundhog has a holiday, so... if you want a civil rights day, start one without messing with MLK day. It's important! :-D

You are right to capitalize Xerox, i think. You could ust say "photocopied."

a soon-to-be-obsolete observance that leaves more people wondering why they did not receive any mail on the second Tuesday of October than anything else.--- hahahh this is funny.

Celebrating Dr. King's birthday pushes other civil rights leaders to the background. -- i disagree!

Early abolitionists like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass risked their lives to help the enslaved -----good points here, maybe I am wrong... you are starting to persuade me, but only a little.

Well your structure is great, with good topic sentences and a clear argument. But... instead of challenging the appropriateness of MLK day it would be better to suggest the addition of an additional holiday, "Civil Rights Day." That's what I think, I guess. The person grading you might grade harshly if s/he thinks it is heinous to challenge King's worthiness of a holiday. Asking for a Civil Rights Day and challenging the appropriateness of MLK day are 2 different things.

:-)
OP Notoman 20 / 419  
Feb 3, 2010   #3
But, but ... I wanted to go out on a bit of a limb by stating an opinion that may not be politically correct, but is still defensible. It would be too easy to write an editorial on something that everyone agrees on. I think that the concept of a holiday is *very* important--I'd just think it should have been more inclusive right from the start. I am not suggesting a change now. I am paranoid that my teacher will be a die-hard MLK fan and think that I am a beast for wanting a different kind of celebration of civil rights.

True, the groundhog has its own holiday, but only in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I don't get a day off of school. I haven't even made a construction-paper groundhog since first grade. I want a holiday! (He says in impetuous tone and a little stomp of the foot). Eight more school days until a four-day weekend ... not that I am counting.

The next essay is compare/contrast. I have *no* clue what I am going to write about. I tried Googling lists of ideas, but nothing jumped out at me.

Thanks for the discourse, Kevin.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 4, 2010   #4
Hahahahahah hah, you are funny...

I am paranoid that my teacher will be a die-hard MLK fan and think that I am a beast for wanting a different kind of celebration of civil rights.

Yeah, I think everyone should be a die hard mlk fan. And even if we are not, we might tend to see this essay in a negative light because king was SUCH a hero and genius. I'm in awe of his writing.

So, I think you could do a great editorial by focusing on this argument: MLK ay should now be a time when we reflect on the contributions of all civil rights heroes, including ______, _________, ________, ______, _____,...

The effort to convince readers that establishing mlk day was unnecessary is... unnecessary. The cool part of your argument, which still can be controversial, is that you are in favor of honoring all these others as well as MLK. A little rewrite would make this all-positive with no irreverence to King.

:-)

about the compare and contrast, remember that you have to show both similarities and differences, and you can chooe point-by-point or alternating eslbee.com/compcont.htm


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